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October 17, 2023 Security

Don’t Get Caught in These Social Security Scams

Like many scams, Social Security scams are on the rise. The target of these scams are older adults receiving social security benefits and may be overly trusting and vulnerable. You, and the ones you love, need to be armed with the knowledge of how these scams work so that you can better protect Social Security beneficiaries you know from these scams.

How A Scam Plays Out

These scams typically start with a phone call that comes from an alleged Social Security employee. They call to tell the beneficiaries that their benefits are being suspended and will need to be reactivated if they want to continue to receive their funds.

To reactivate their funds, the caller will ask the victim for their personal information or to pay a fee in order to reactivate it. If the victim does so, the scammer has access to their bank account or personal information and uses it to take the beneficiary’s money or identity.

Another scam to watch out for is when the victim receives a phone call with an automated voice message from the Social Security Administration (SSA) instructing them to call a specific number to resolve problems with their account or with their benefits. If the victim follows through, they will share personal or bank information with a scammer.

Lastly, Social Security scams can also come through an email containing an embedded link for the victim to click. If the link is clicked on, the victim is usually prompted to share their personal information or pay a fee, resulting again in a loss of money or personal information.

Ways to Protect Yourself

The Social Security Administration warns beneficiaries to be wary of phone calls claiming to represent their organization. It is also important to note that the SSA will never do the following:

  • Ask for all 9 digits of your social security number over the phone. If needed, they will only ask for a few digits to confirm your identity.
  • Request immediate payment over the phone with the use of a gift card, wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or cash sent in the mail. The SSA office will only accept payments made electronically through their approved payment site, pay.gov, or physically with a check or money order.
  • Tell the beneficiary they will be arrested or need legal action if they do not pay the fee immediately.
  • They will never suspend a Social Security number.
  • The SSA will notify a person of an issue through mail. They only send emails or texts to someone who has signed up for them.

If You Encounter a Scammer

If you believe you are being targeted by a Social Security scam, there are a few things you can do:

  • Hang up on the caller and report the scam on oig.ssa.gov.
  • Call the SSA at 1-800-771-1213 to ask if there is an actual problem with your benefits.
  • Fill out a Public Fraud Reporting form at socialsecurity.gov.
  • Mark any suspicious emails as spam and do not respond.
  • Block numbers that send you scam messages or phone calls.

When receiving calls and emails, you should always follow a few general rules.

  • Never agree to wire money to someone you don’t know over the phone or online.
  • Never share personal information over the phone or Internet.
  • Verify you are being contacted by the organization they claim to be by hanging up and calling the number on their official website.